Gray And Green

Gray and green the morning came,
gray and green the woods and vales,
and black the copse without a name
amidst misty meadow trails.

The dreams of night’s restful sleep
linger as figures half-dreamt
in fog amassed like flocks of sheep,
sky and earth a fleece half-kempt.

Who is that among the fog?
Who is that wandering, lost?
The soundless field is as a bog
which all sleepwalkers must cross.

Had I such a sluggish gait
when I woke this early morn?
I see a figure halt and wait
as if unsure—as if torn.

Rousing, drowsing, in between,
he waits but a moment more,
then shuffles forth, beyond the scene
of gray and green, as before.

Gray and green, the earth and sky,
gray and green the morning come,
I witness with half-curtained eye
this somnambulist’s kingdom.

Fences Through The Heartland

Some are old and ramshackle and weather-worn,
stained green with rains, pollen, and moss,
rusted nails dissolving to dust, planks torn
yet entwined with vines, like braces with floss.

Some are herniated, like storm-busted ribs
and meander alongside forgotten property lines;
tumbled together, wound round like fairy cribs,
and others ramble idly near countryside signs.

Some are new and black, corralling quiet cattle
within rolling hills and valleys of bluegrass,
and some are so old they wobble, jitter, and rattle
like broken teeth as the breathing winds pass.

Some fences are fortified with cedars and ferns
that grow up beside them, along their chains,
and some are stitched alongside the twists and turns
of creeks and rivers, dividing fields and flood plains.

Some are a few thin wires between metal poles
that buzz like wasps and sting like electric bees,
and some are spiked with barbwire in spiraling rolls
that covetously guard the bourbon distilleries.

Some are lovely picket fences, each so bright white
that it seems Tom Sawyer paints them each day,
whereas others are colonial, ricked up just right
in their split-rail style, zig-zagging this and that way.

And then there are the fences that divide each heart
along tribal loyalties—by town, by city, by clan,
by race, by creed, by gender, by whichever serrated part
that divides the Heartland with the prejudices of Man.

Fallen Kingdom


Glinting dragonflies with diaphanous wings
and catfish splashing, spreading lakeside rings;

knobby-kneed fawns wobbling in arboreal shade
and robins above, singing a triumphant aubade;

geese waddling as a troupe— gander, goose and goslings—
and angry little ducks quacking very cross things;

chipmunks flitting in tawny flashes, to and fro, to and fro,
while squirrels bicker and bite, in the trees and down below;

pond congealed with green algae, black muck, and duckweed,
and bullfrogs burping rudely, from shoal to mud to reed;

foxes playing like wildfire in the bulb-bobbing clover
and the light showers of rain as the clouds pass over;

hawks perched on power lines to search for unsuspecting prey
while buzzards circle the remainders from yesterday;

a sun-blanched skull with a broken antler crown
tangled in the cedar-post fence, all tumbledown;

a dilapidated barn with a mournful, gaping mouth
opened toward a thunderstorm rumbling to the South;

the ancient tractor overgrown with vines, its wheels rusted,
the tiller blades dulled and the engine block busted;

broken cobblestones upon the front-yard path,
a lopsided swing and a shattered birdbath;

a farmhouse peeling, its gutters clogged and its siding stained,
spiderwebs splayed across every unbroken window pane;

the weathervane’s cockerel cracked at its lightning-struck comb
and the cupola collapsing inward, like the rest of that home;

and these headstones hidden among the wilderness of wheat
where there pass no children’s laughter or words or pattering feet;

their corpses cuddling together for carrion comfort beneath it all—
husband and wife: childless, finite, fallen, mortal.